SAN ANTONIO – National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived to the scene Tuesday morning to investigate what happened to the small aircraft that crashed in a commercial area near the San Antonio International Airport Sunday night, killing all three occupants.
While officials didn’t release many new details Tuesday, they said they plan to release a preliminary report about the crash in five days.
The toxicology reports of the victims will be handled by the FAA medical lab in Oklahoma and the debris from the crash was taken to a secured warehouse in Dallas for analysis.
The identity of the 71-year-old woman was not released Tuesday morning, pending next-of-kin notification.
The crash was reported at 6:26 p.m. in the 600 block of W. Rhapsody Drive, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said Sunday.
According to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, the victims included a 22-year-old man, a 71-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man identified as Robert Tyson Womble, who was believed to be the pilot. Officials have confirmed the 22-year-old man was Eric Naranjo, a UTSA student. The identity of the woman was still not known Tuesday.
Naranjo was an active member of the UTSA Table Tennis Club and was a financial intern with an investment company in Austin.
Womble worked for the same company as Naranjo.
The aircraft is a Piper PA-24 Comanche, according to FlightAware. It is a single-engine aircraft that seats four people. The plane appears to have been registered to RTW Capital LLC, an Austin company, in 2018.
The flight took off from Sugar Land and headed toward Boerne, Hood previously said. The aircraft’s flight history showed multiple trips recently taken in the last few days within Texas.
What went wrong?
While it’s unclear exactly what caused the crash, dispatch audio from Sunday evening sheds more light on the moments leading up to the incident.
“I’ve got traffic just north of the field that just declared engine failure, coming in to land," the dispatcher said, according to audio obtained by KSAT.
The plane was headed toward Boerne, but Hood said Sunday that the pilot activated an alert that indicated they would attempt an emergency landing at the San Antonio International Airport.
According to air traffic control radio obtained online, a man who appeared to be the pilot reported the emergency.
“Engine failure, I need to land at international (airport),” the man said.
The air traffic controller asks him which runway he can land at, and the man tells him, “we can circle around for runway 4.” That runway is on the southwest corner of the airport.
Shortly after that, the air traffic controller loses contact with the pilot.
According to the flight path provided by FlightAware, the plane reached the airport, but looped around before landing. It would fall short of the runway, crashing into a street. The flight log shows the plane nose-diving at more than 1,800 feet per minute.
No other injuries were reported, Hood said, which is fortunate considering the plane could have crashed onto Highway 281 or an apartment complex.
“As tragic as it is, it could have been much worse,” Hood said Sunday.